| | |

Grad Program: Elementary Education and Teaching

Basic Information

Through a blend of advanced level coursework and intensive field experience, master’s programs in Elementary Education help practicing teachers refine their skills, enhance their career opportunities, and become more effective in the classroom. Coursework often focuses on pedagogical techniques, curriculum development, and the latest trends in education and policy. Teachers are encouraged to explore the inter-relatedness of the subject matter taught to children, and to incorporate modern teaching methodology and theory into their subsequent practice. In addition, students explore the social, political, and economic factors that affect young students, giving them a deeper understanding of and sensitivity to primary school-aged students.

In most elementary education programs, a good deal of learning is done in the field. Students are versed in classroom observation techniques and taught how to interpret educational research. At the end of the program, which usually spans about two years, master’s students engage in specialized seminars, conduct independent research, or engage in a practicum or student teaching experience. Some programs also require students to write a research-based thesis.

While some programs are decidedly focused on educating practicing teachers, many programs are also willing to admit new teachers, allowing them to meet credential requirements at the same time that they pursue their master’s. If you have a strong interest in primary school children and do not have a teaching credential, choose a program that will allow you to pursue both a degree and a credential simultaneously.

Degree Information

Depending on the program, students may pursue a Master’s of Science in Education (M.S.), Master of Arts in Education (M.A.), or Master’s of Education (M.Ed.) in Elementary Education. M.S. and M.A. programs usually require students to write a culminating thesis based on classroom research, whereas M.Ed. programs usually do not. M.S. programs may also require more class work in methodology and research than M.A. or M.Ed. programs.

Program requirements and courses vary by school; however, all degree options can usually be conferred after one or two years of advanced level coursework in the discipline. Many programs allow part-time, evening, or summer options for practicing teachers. A practicum or master’s thesis is a graduation requirement at many institutions.

Some schools also offer the option of pursuing a Ph.D. in Education with a focus on primary or elementary education. These programs are geared towards education professionals who want to pursue a career in educational research or in teacher education on the university level.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Degree Program
  • What specialties or certificate programs does the school offer?
  • Who are the faculty and staff? What professional or academic experience do they bring to the program?
  • Where do students do internships or fieldwork?
  • Where is the school located? Does the school's location influence its philosophy?
  • Does the program require students to write a thesis?
  • Do students engage in research, classroom observation, internships, or independent projects?
  • Does the school offer part time study?
  • Can students pursue a teaching credential concurrent to an M.A./M.S.?

Ask an Educational Advisor